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Srilanka Parliament Elections Results: Mahinda Rajapaksa, UPFA Winners

Colombo, April 9 (DPA) Sri Lanka's ruling party, led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, won the first parliamentary elections held since last year's end of the country's 26-year civil war, election officials said Friday.

With some votes yet to be counted from Thursday's elections, Rajapaksa's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) had taken 117 seats, already a majority in the 225-member parliament, officials said.

"We have surpassed the required 113 members to form a government with the results announced so far," said Dullas Allahaperuma, a former minister from the UPFA.

The ruling party, buoyed by the military victory last year against the separatist rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also won the presidential election in January with 58 percent of the vote.

According to partial results announced Friday evening, the UPFA had received 4.7 million votes, or 60.43 percent of Thursday's ballots. The United National Party (UNP), the main opposition party, had 2.3 million votes, or 29.43 percent.

Those results gave the UNP 46 members in Parliament so far, while the Tamil National Alliance, a coalition of parties for the Tamil ethnic minority, had won 12 seats and a Marxist party five.

Of the 225 members in parliament, 196 are directly elected while the remaining 29 are nominated by the parties based on the nationwide proportion of votes they gain.

Polling was due to be held again April 17 in two constituencies where polling agents from the opposition were chased out of polling stations by ruling party supporters. One of the constituencies is in Central Province, where polling was affected in 38 of the polling locations, and the other is in the northeastern district of Trincomalee, where polling was affected at two stations.

As a result, the final results have been delayed but preliminary results without the two constituencies would be released Saturday, a spokesman for the Elections Department said.

The repoll was unlikely to have an impact on the final result as the margin between the ruling party and opposition was wide, he said.

The UPFA has been campaigning for a two-thirds majority in parliament, but it was not immediately clear whether it would reach that target.

Allahaperuma earlier said according to previous projections, the UPFA would end up with an estimated 136 seats.

"This is a sign that the people are losing faith in the opposition and endorsing the policies of President Rajapaksa," he said.

A political party campaigning on behalf of the army's former commander who led the final battles against the LTTE and who is currently in military custody was trailing the two main parties.

General Sarath Fonseka has been in custody since Feb 8, shortly after he lost to Rajapaksa in the presidential election. He has been charged with conspiracy against the government and fraud in military procurements.

According to results released so far, there was no indication that the Democratic National Alliance backing Fonseka had been able to gain any sympathy votes over the arrest of the general. It had won five seats.

In Thursday's elections, 14 million people were registered to vote, and an estimated 55 percent of them turned out.

The turnout was considered low compared with the January presidential elections, in which 74 percent voted, and with the previous parliamentary elections, in which 75 percent voted.

Election officials had commenced the counting of preference votes, which decide the members who enter Parliament. Four ministers of the past government have lost their seats.

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